Martha’s Vineyard Community Services hosted about 200 attendees for its 45th annual Possible Dreams auction on Sunday afternoon, held under a massive white tent on the lawn of Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown.
$766,000 had been raised by the end of the auction, surpassing last year’s $704,000 result. By mid-afternoon Monday, $799,000 had been raised.
Thirty-one online auction items were available before the event, closing shortly before the live bidding. Eight separate items were auctioned at the event. Community Services will continue to collect funds throughout the week as well.
On Sunday, cars lined up on the street outside Winnetu, and on the resort’s lawn. Attendees passing through the resort’s gates were also greeted by the Vineyard Sharks collegiate baseball team, themselves behind the “MV Sharks Experience” item, which sold online for $700.
Under the tent, attendees mingled and enjoyed the bar, as well as various hors d’oeuvres.
Beth Folcarelli, in her fourth year as MVCS CEO, addressed the crowd before live bidding began. Folcarelli thanked the family of Art Buchwald, the auction’s longtime chair and host. She also talked about the needs of Community Services. “This year, our budget is 19 percent larger than our preceding year,” she said.
Folcarelli also highlighted many MVCS programs, including 878 home visits performed last year through the Head Start program. The program supports families raising children. MVCS also provided 1,479 home-based services last year through its elder mental health program.
The microphone was then passed to “Late Night” host Seth Meyers, in his fourth year as Possible Dreams host, and 12th year living on the Island.
Meyers came prepared with an arsenal of Vineyard-specific material. “I don’t think anything proves how much [this event] means to me more than the fact that I live in Chilmark and I came to Edgartown on a Sunday,” he said. Meyers also took jabs at parking scarcity in Edgartown, that up-Island refers to west instead of north, and recalled his son asking him why Nantucket sucks so much.
Meyers also playfully targeted his in-laws, now his on-Island neighbors after the recent construction of his home. “I will recommend — if you’re ever trying to build a home — I would say try to do it during a pandemic; best possible time to do it. Supply line inflation, those are all things you’re gonna want as well, and do it on an Island,” he said.
Meyers also praised MVCS for its work after the flight of 49 migrants to the Island by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: “Martha’s Vineyard Community Services made national news for their empathy in times of crisis,” he said.
Auctioneer Sherry Truhlar commanded the live bidding, calling out to crowd members and fielding bids from online viewers.
Truhlar and Meyers also bantered with providers of individual prizes, sharing the stage with Chef Anthony Rabeni of the Vineyard Golf Club ahead of bidding for the “A Dream Fit for a Foodie” prize (two winners, for $46,000 total), and with director Doug Liman ahead of the “Pizza and a Movie with Jake Gyllenhaal” ($55,000 winning bid).
A private dinner with Meyers and his wife Alexi at their home, with Tony Shalhoub, Brooke Adams, and Amy Schumer, sold for $51,000.
Throughout the auction, Meyers mentioned his discomfort at the temperature, and recalled having to change clothes in 2022. “Last year we raised over $700,000, and I lost seven pounds of water weight,” he said.
Despite this, Meyers dipped backstage halfway through the auction and returned in a puffy coat and winter hat.
At the auction, MVCS also presented its inaugural Art Buchwald Award for Outstanding Community Service. Oak Bluffs and Tisbury educator Wiet Bacheller received the award.
The last event of the night was to crown the Last MVCS Hero, for which attendees donated smaller sums at will, with the last to donate winning an exclusive experience at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as a paper crown. The last paddle standing was first-time attendee Maria Devita. “My sister-in-law had heard about it, and we decided we would try it, because it’s in the neighborhood, and you know, it’s a good cause,” she said.
MVCS officials say that funds from Possible Dreams will go a long way toward accomplishing their many goals. “Mental health is a growing challenge in the country, and on our Island specifically,” said board clerk Patty Favreau.
The auction also comes as Community Services is preparing major developments, said Folcarelli. “We’re opening up a community behavioral health center — we’re in the process of getting that now. We’re also doing emergency response with the police coming this fall, and we’re engaged in a capital campaign, rebuilding our campus,” she said. “Our goal is to raise $22.5 million. So those are three really big things happening on the horizon.”
Folcarelli said that MVCS has currently raised more than $3 million toward its $22.5 million goal.
MVCS will begin preparations for next year almost immediately, added Folcarelli: “[Winnetu are] just such gracious and wonderful hosts that I would imagine we would be in discussions with them as soon as tomorrow for next year.”